“Tobin’s going to drop me off at the tailgate,” Christen confirms with Alex. It’s just after lunch and the afternoon of the Thorns home opener and she’s on the phone, finalizing plans. “That is if she ever gets out of the bathroom,” she says worriedly.
“What’s wrong?” Alex gasps, “Is she okay?”
“She’s nervous,” Christen sighs, “and has been puking since breakfast and I don’t know how to help her,”
“Sit tight Press,” Alex says, “I’m on my way.”
Christen sets her phone down, looking down the hall from the kitchen to where the bedroom is, unable to hear anything. Tobin admitted earlier she was nervous, her leg was bouncing every time she sat down but she was either unwilling or unable to share with Christen why. Feeling rather helpless and torn between wanting to give Tobin some space and to help her, she’s undecided in what to do.
She slowly walks down the hall and hears Tobin retching in the bathroom, cringing at the violent noise. She enters the bedroom and pauses near the closed bathroom door.
“Honey, can I help you?” she asks.
“Uh,” Tobin coughs, “I’m okay, I’ll be out in a few,”
“Okay,” Christen replies, thoroughly unconvinced. She turns and leaves the room, ending up sitting on the couch and listlessly watching TV. This is not how she thought Tobin’s first matchday would go. She reasons that it’s probably not Tobin’s ideal way to spend her morning and afternoon when she should be relaxing with her.
Five minutes turns into ten and Christen is getting worried and thinking maybe she should go check on her again when she hears a knock at the kitchen door. She spies Alex and Allie as she opens the door.
“Where is she?” Alex asks warily, looking around.
“Bathroom,” Christen points down the hall, then calls the dogs to let them outside.
Alex opens the bathroom door to find Tobin sitting on the floor next to the toilet, her knees drawn up, elbows resting them and her head in her hands. She lifts her head slightly and sees it’s them, then sighs and scrunches her head down further.
Alex sits down next to her, Allie across from them.
“Remember when you we were at that show in Chicago the morning your first presentation?” Allie asks, referring to a tradeshow many years ago. “You were barfing all morning before session?”
“Gross,” Alex murmurs and Tobin sends her a sharp look. “Sorry,” she shrugs.
“What did we talk about?” Allie asks, glaring and making a face at Alex who mouths another sorry.
“We talked about how much I prepare myself for the presentation,” Tobin sighs.
“And how you had watched videos of other presenters, you had index cards just in case you lost your place,” Allie states softly, “and how you knew everything like the back of your hand,”
“Yeah,” Tobin acknowledges, lifting her head up, “I did.”
“So, how is this different?” Allie questions, not letting Tobin answer, “You’ve practiced with the team for almost two months now, you’re in the best shape of your life, your talent level has grown exponentially,” she shrugs, “and you’re ready to go out there and give your best effort.”
“Yeah, I know,” Tobin says, huffing a little, shaking her head.
“What is it?” Alex asks, slowly sliding her arm around her, “what’s in your head?”
Tobin looks at her and then Allie, shrugging a little, “Maybe a fear of the unknown?”
“Like, how the match will play out?” Allie asks, leaning forward a bit.
“Maybe?” Tobin questions, “I can’t put my finger on it,”
“You remember when you were getting ready to help your Grandpa when he got really sick?” Alex questions, “Like, at the end?”
Tobin nods solemnly, “Uh huh,”
“Remember how the three of us talked about the unknown then?” Alex continues, “And how we only have control over what we can control and that’s ourselves and how we respond to what’s happening?”
“Yeah,” Tobin nods, making eye contact with them both, “you guys really pulled me off the ledge that night,”
“This is kind of related, isn’t it?” Allie asks, “This type of fear of the unknown?”
“Like not making a fool of yourself, making a terrible mistake in the match? Disappointing us? Disappointing Chris?” Alex asks.
“What if I go out there and suck?” Tobin questions, “What if I miss a sitter?”
“Then you try again,” Allie states assuredly, “you work as hard as you can,”
“You don’t take any plays off,” Alex joins in, “Tobin, you’ve put so much of yourself into this,”
“Like, this is the real deal,” Tobin says vehemently, “This is it, a pro match, not preseason, not messing around.”
Allie and Alex nod, “And you belong right there on the pitch,” Alex states, “Tobin, they choose you.You worked you ass off to make the team. You are now a pro athlete. You can do this, you earned it and you are talented enough to be there. Forget not playing college or going overseas or whatever else, you’re Portland’s finest from off the streets.”
Tobin looks at them, her head slowly moving back and forth between them. “You make me sound homeless,” she says with something close a grin on her face.
“We should make a poster of that!” Allie cackles.
“Yeah, Kelley won’t show us the poster she’s making,” Alex states, rolling her eyes, “it’s the one from her bet she lost to Nadine.”
Tobin eyes them both, “Isn’t it weird that we’re all kinda friends with them now?”
Allie and Alex grin, “Sorta?” Alex shrugs her shoulders, “I mean, they’re just people you met, who have an unusual job.”
“Yeah, they poop and hair bad hair days and get coffee like we do,” Allie grins at her.
“Am I being an idiot?” Tobin asks with a sigh, leaning her head back against the wall.
“No,” Alex assures her, “I mean, you should probably stop puking,” she wrinkles her nose.
“It’s just gonna be another game of footy, right?” Tobin says, feeling better.
“Once that whistle blows, it’s all business, Tobes,” Allie nods back at her.
Alex stands up, “Come on,” she says, sticking a hand out, “you need to show Christen you’re alive,”
“Yeah,” Tobin agrees, reaching for her hand and standing and helping Allie up. She hugs Allie and then Alex, “Thanks guys,” she says as they slowly exit the bathroom, “I was way too in my head,”
“No problem,” Alex smiles at her, “now, relax, maybe have sex, and we’ll see you at the park,” Tobin is rolling her eyes.
“Ah,” Allie grins at her, “you should brush your teeth first,” she advises, “puke breath is not gonna turn on Christen,”
“You don’t know that,” Tobin mumbles, turning around back to the bathroom.
Christen is looking over her shoulder from the couch anxiously as Allie and Alex come down the hall.
“She’s fine,” Alex declares, “just don’t let her get in her head.”
“Remind her when the whistle blows, it’s just footy,” Allie adds.
Christen lets out a deep sigh, “Thanks guys,”
“We’ll see you in a few hours,” Alex says,
“Have a good afternoon!” Allie giggles and waves as they leave.
Tobin comes down the hall a few minutes later, slowly lowering herself on the couch next to Christen. She reaches for Christen’s hand. “Sorry,” she says quietly, “I was really in my head, worrying about things I can’t control,”
Christen squeezes her hand, feeling Tobin will still speak.
“And I didn’t mean to make you feel like I was shutting you out or anything,” she says, looking at her earnestly, “I hope you didn’t,”
Christen smiles, “No, I was worried about you though,” she admits.
“I’m sorry,” Tobin says heartfully, “I might need a couple of games to get this down,”
Christen turns on the couch, running her hand on Tobin’s forearm, “Maybe we should create a pre-game routine,” she suggests, her eyes darkening, “you know, I hear athletes like routine.”
“Chris,” Tobin says, looking pained as she sees the desire on Christen’s face, “I need to rest,”
Christen stands up, gripping Tobin’s forearm and pulling her close, “I’ll be doing all the work,” she says breathily, “you’ll just lie there,”
“Babe,” Tobin weakly protests, but Christen is kissing her neck in that spot that makes her knees go weak. She moves up her neck and kisses her.
“Come on,” she says, giving her arm a tug, “and thank God you brushed your teeth!”
“I used mouthwash, too!” Tobin rolls her eyes.
“Oh, God!” Tobin cries out, writhing beneath Christen who quickly slides down to suck on her clit.
“Chris” Tobin starts but is cut off from the deep inhale as her orgasm rushes through her, freezing her in position. She’s stretched out flat on her back, hands grasping the corners of the pillow under her head, legs spread wide. Her heels are digging into the mattress, her chin jerks forward onto her chin, her legs quivering and hips flinching. She collapses back on the mattress, a deep low groan passing her lips. She raises one hand up to wipe the sweat on her forehead back into her hairline. She swallows hard as she pants, trying to regain her breath. Without moving her head, she eyes Christen as she slowly climbs up from in between her legs, wiping at her face and looking at her with hunger blazing in her eyes.
“Babe,” Tobin gets out, reaching for her, gliding her fingers over her warm bare skin.
“You like that, baby?” she grins at her, placing a quick kiss on her lips.
“Oh yeah,” Tobin smiles at her, “you’re amazing,” she says as she rubs her hand on her torso.
Christen angles herself to the side and pulls at Tobin’s shoulder, “Come on over here,” she instructs, “go to sleep, you can nap for three hours,”
“Yes, I set an alarm,” Christen assures her, “I probably won’t nap for long, don’t worry, you won’t be late.”
“Thanks, babe,” Tobin sighs, snuggling against Christen’s warm chest, her hand gripping one of her breasts.
“Now remember,” Christen says, kissing Tobin once more, “an assist is one and a goal is two,”
Tobin smiles widely at her, “Got it,” she says, “I’m going for a hat trick tonight!” she jokes. She holds Christens’ forearm, not letting her out of the truck. “Seriously though,” she says, her voice and demeanor changing, “thank you so much,” she says softly, “for today, for every day. I love you.”
Christen kisses her, “I love you, too,” she smiles at her, “go get ‘em, Tiger!”
Tobin nods and smiles as she watches Christen leave the truck and head into the parking lot where their group is tailgating. She looks before joining traffic and pulls into the lane, carefully navigating her way to Providence Park. She pulls into the players’ lot, showing her pass to the security guard and parking along the fence. She pulls out her ear buds, not wanting to have to speak if someone yells to her, feeling a little nervous about having to make the long walk alone down the barricaded street to the players entrance.
It’s a little cool, so she pulls her beanie down on her head, snuggling her shoulders a little to get her hoodie around her neck more and then decides to go. She gets out of her truck, grabs her gear bag from the backseat and heads over to the exit.
“Yo, Tobin!” a voice calls out. She swivels her head and sees Sinc and Mal getting out of Sinc’s car. “Wait up!”
Sinc is smiling as they approach, “You didn’t think we’d let you do your first walk alone, did ya?”
Tobin smiles back, “Thanks, man,” extending her fist for a knuckle bump.
“You excited?” Mal asks her as they pull on their warm up tops.
“Yeah, it’s going to be wild,” Tobin grins, "it’ll be weird watching from the bench as opposed to the stands."
Mal cocks her head as she looks at her, “Huh?”
“You know,” Tobin gestures with her hands, “It’ll be like having pitchside seats, inside of being up high,”
“Did you look at the lineup?” Mal asks, squinting at her.
“Uh, no?” Tobin says.
“Sinc!” Mal yells loudly, “Will you help this hopeless rookie, please?”
Sinc comes over, looking between the two, “What’s up?”
,” Mal jerks her thumb at Tobin, “didn’t look at the roster.”
A smile spreads across Sinc’s face and she shakes her head, tsking. “Come here,” she says, putting an arm around her and guiding her to the wall, “look.”
Tobin looks up and sees her name. “What the fuck?” she whispers and looks over at her. Sinc smiles, “You earned it,” she says and slaps her back.
Tobin doesn’t have time to text Christen, rushing to get her ankle taped and go through her pregame stretching before heading out to the pitch for warmups. The crowd sounds so loud and when she has a moment to look up, she sees the stands aren’t filled in yet with many at the concessions and filtering in the stadium. Warmups go fast and Tobin is feeling loose, her touches are great, her shots on target. When they get to the close six yard drill, Tobin slots the ball between Nadine’s legs. She’s nutmegged her.
“Finally got ya!” she calls out and sees Nadine shaking her fist at her, a smile on her face.
The assistant coach calls them in to the locker room, Tobin playing with an errant ball as she trots towards to the sideline. She sees Sinc just ahead of her so she moves to the side of her. “Hey, Sinc!” she yells, sending the ball in between her legs, causing her to stutter step.
“Fuck!” Sinc curses as the team chuckles, “Tobin!”
Tobin laughs, “Saved the best for last!” she says, Sinc coming over and putting her in a headlock as they enter the tunnel.
Mark’s talk is concise and to the point, very straight forward. They all know their roles, they all know what’s expected of them. Mark does tell Tobin specifically that she would be taking all free kicks and corners, his lips curling into a smile when he reminds her. Emily Menges gets them riled up, passionately speaking of defending out home and not letting anyone come in and score. They were the only ones allowed to score in this building. They are tough and won’t give in.
Tobin is kicking out her feet, swaying side to side as she waits in the tunnel, realizing there’s a small girl next to her. “Hey, how you doing?” she asks, “I’m Tobin, what’s your name?”
“Kaylee,” she replies shyly, looking up at her.
“Hi, Kaylee,” she says, “you ever do this before?” The small girl shakes her head. Tobin smiles wide, “Me either,” she admits, “I’m a little nervous,” she says, “are you?” The girl nods.
“That’s awesome!” Tobin grins at her, “If we’re both nervous, you what that means, right?”
“No, what does it mean?”
“When two people are nervous about the same thing, you can’t be nervous anymore because you have a buddy. Will you be my buddy going out there?”
She nods her head, “Sure,”
“Awesome,” Tobin nods back at her, then she shakes her legs out and rolls her shoulders, “Holy cow!” she exclaims, “I don’t feel nervous anymore, do you?”
“I do,” Kaylee frowns.
“Here, maybe you should do what I did,” Tobin suggests, showing her how to shake her legs, the girl mimicking her. Tobin then rolls her shoulders and then adds some stupid silly looking dance moves and soon Kaylee laughing along with her.
“Here we go!” A male voice commands and the line starts moving.
Tobin grips Kaylee’s hand, “You good?”
“Yeah, Tobin!” she laughs, “You’re so silly!”
Tobin has no clue the Thorns social media staff was behind them, filming the whole exchange. They were focusing on Tobin, building her story of being a hometown rookie player.
Tobin and Kaylee enter the pitch, the noise thunderous as they walk out. Tobin goes through the line, slapping hands and finds Kaylee looking for her, putting her hands on her shoulder, squeezing them a little.
She feels a chill run down her spine as the National Anthem plays and she places her hand on her heart, tapping two fingers along just to keep something moving and contain her excitement. She thanks Kaylee afterwards before the little girl runs off the pitch and Tobin follows her teammates to slap hands with the refs and the members of the Orlando Pride.
They take their team photo and then huddle up for last minute words. Again, Tobin is on the outside, a hand on someone’s back, half listening, her eyes scanning the crowd. She looks towards where she knows her friends are, biting her upper lip and holding back a grin when she sees two rows holding up posters that spell out Tobin Heath Nutmeg Queen.
A warmth fills her chest and the team yells Thorns and now she’s heading back on the pitch to start the match.
She can’t believe how loud the crowd sounds, even though she’s been here so many times before. It just sounds so different on the pitch.
“You ready?” Sinc elbows her, looking her over for signs of nerves.
Tobin grins, “Let’s play some footy!”
Sinc holds up a fist, “Fuck yeah!”
“Fuck yeah!” Tobin yells back giving her knuckles a tap.
The first half is a blur, Tobin being pulled down, tripped up and having her jersey nearly ripped off her. She’s granted many free kicks in return, although nothing has come from them. The Thorns seem a little off, their timing just a half step behind from dominating the match. The Pride know they are outclassed and had decided to just try and foul everyone in hopes someone losses their temper and gets a yellow.
Tobin gets her knee bandaged during the half, she’s got a lovely turf burn from one of the plays that sent her sprawling. Monica, the Brazilian defender also gave her an elbow shot to her cheek and Tobin hopes it doesn’t bruise. Her teammates aren’t faring any better, they are bruised and battered as well, getting quickly patched up by the medical staff. Mark changes up the game plan, using their speed as a weapon. He encourages the midfield and defenders to send long balls over the top for the forwards to track down. Instead of building up plays, he tells them it’s the fast breaks and one touches that will get the job done.
“Well, what the fuck,” Kelley frowns, “they’re knocking the shit of out them,” she complains, “is their game plan just to foul them?”
Christen nods, after spending most of the first half cringing every time a Thorn was taken down, especially Tobin, she’s pissed at Orlando. “How are there not any yellow cards yet?” She questions unhappily.
Ashlyn lays her hands on Christen’s shoulders from behind. “I predict the Thorns are going to come out and kick their ass second half,”
“Well, they better do something,” Alex frowns, “someone’s going to get really hurt out there.”
Allie and Bati come back from the concessions, passing beers down to them.
“We’ll find out, soon,” Kelley shrugs and then chugs the rest of her beer and then starts on her fresh one.
Perry looks over her shoulder below the in front of them looking at Christen, “They’re so rough,” she frowns, “why isn’t Tobin hitting them back?”
Christen’s row smiles at her, “She doesn’t want to get a foul,” she explains.
“She prefers to make them look like fools,” Kelley informs her, giving her wicked grin, “you’ll see.”
Christen had texted Perry and as a surprise to Tobin, her whole family is here to support her. Tobin had explained she was told the first home match was family and friends night, so the team wouldn’t go out as a group afterwards. They normally do it after certain matches, not every single one. So Christen had told Tobin she would take care of inviting everyone back to her barn to hang out afterwards and not to worry about food and drinks, she’ll take care of it. Last night, when Tobin was at her team dinner and film session, Christen, along with Allie, Bati, Ashlyn, Ali, Alex and Servando had prepared the barn and many more were pitching in food and drinks. They would have enough time after the match to go home and grab whatever they needed and then come to Tobin’s house.
One minute after the kick off of the second half , Catley has the ball just outside the eighteen, sending a long liner downfield that Mal easily tracks and traps, she quickly passes it to Sinc who gets a shot off but Bledose saves it. Minutes later, Tobin has the ball, coming into Orlando’s half and Monica is already on her, darting at her feet. Tobin easily nutmegs her, hearing her swear behind her as she crosses to Sinc who bends a low liner that skims along the turf and past a diving Bledsoe for the first goal of the night.
Mayhem erupts in the stadium as red smoke pours from the stands, the chants and cheers loud as the team huddles together in elation. Sinc gets close to Tobin as they trot back, leaning to speak, “You’ve got her frustrated,” she says, “now get her pissed.” Tobin sees her wild grin and nods back at her, extending her fist, “Fuck yeah,” she grins back.
She gets her chance in two minutes, when she has her back to Monica, trying to edge closer to the box and free herself up to send a cross. She winces as she feels Monica elbowing her in the back, flinching and then passing the ball to back to McCall Zerboni in the midfield. She bounces away and then McCall passes it back, and Tobin heads in again.
Monica smirks when she puts her feet together and Tobin’s meg attempt makes the ball roll a few feet again, Tobin traps it, glancing up to see the six yard box filled with hovering Thorns players. She’s got to get the ball to them. She fakes another nutmeg and Monica’s feet slide together and Tobin pulls an elastico, the ball swiftly moving from right to left with her toe on it, and she races around the Monica as she falls, unbalanced to ground, getting free and lofting the ball in the box. The ball gets headed away, back to Emily Menges with Sinc at the eighteen now, so Tobin edges in to the front of the goal.
The Sinc sends in a screamer that ricochets through five players and the ball lands at her feet. Her back is to goal, everyone is covered on front of her. She makes a split second decision and back heels the ball through Monica’s legs and Bledsoe who wasn’t expecting it. She’s just scored.
She looks over her shoulder to see Bledsoe on the ground and the ball in the netting and raises her arms as her teammates converge on her. Orlando players are swearing and things are heating up. They head back to the center circle to reset the match.
The game resumes and Orlando presses hard, getting a few chances that are turned away. Tobin is notices it’s the sixty-fifth minute and looks towards the bench, but there’s no players up. Maybe she isn’t coming out, she thinks.
When she gets the ball again, Monica comes in with a very late tackle, sending her to the ground, gripping her shin in pain. It really hurts and she’s squeezing it hard, praying for the pain to abate. The trainers come out, giving her a once over and soon Tobin is sitting up, sipping some water and nodding she’s fine. She limps off the pitch, then jogs a bit, nodding to Mark and giving him a thumbs up. She’s standing next to the fourth official when she hears the announcement that Monica was given a yellow card on the play. With all of the commotion, she hadn’t noticed earlier.
She’s back in the game, weaving through players, passing the ball to build up play. They’re resorted back to their original game plan, using it as a time waster to run off the clock. Orlando is still aggressive and Tobin’s not the only one getting tossed around. Four more yellow cards are issued in a span of fifteen minutes.
While Sinc is down being tended to for a late tackle, Tobin lingers nearby, sipping water. Mal is next to her. “We need two more,” she says firmly, her eyes blazing, “let’s show these bitches who we are.”
Kat nods her head, her demeanor calm, “Long ball coming at you,” she says to Mal. Emily nods, “Fast break,”
Sinc is up and heading to the sideline, the cheers for her loud. Play resumes and Tobin takes the free kick, sending it to McCall and she passes it Mal who takes a shot that gets saved. Orlando comes back hard, weaving through their defense and their shot gets deflected by Nadine and Kat corrals it, turning quickly and sending it downfield blindly. Mal is streaking after it, taking one bounce to control it, deeking past her defender in the eighteen and ripping a shot past Bledose.
The crowd goes wild. Thorns are up 3-0.
The Thorns don’t let up, they kill the time off skillfully, taking the ball to the corners, and that’s where Tobin is, when Monica shoves her off the ball. Tobin stumbles and recovers, running after her, zooming in to lift the ball away and circling back. Monica follows with Australian Laura Alleway, both of them converging on Tobin. Tobin backs up, passing the ball between her feet, dancing with it, taunting the two.
She spies Sinc lingering at the eighteen yard line, dancing back and forth as well, faking her defender. Tobin steps up to the two women, head faking right and then letting her body go left, but Monica is there, so she backs up again to reset. Quickly she charges them, then flicks the ball, executing a perfect rainbow over their heads, bullying her way between them to tame it on the other side, swiftly passing it to Sinc.
Sinc takes a second, moving to her left seeing Tobin coming forward and Mal on the other side, she twists as if she’s passing to Mal when she hips flick hard and pulls her shot across her body into the far side of the net.
Tobin receives roses along with Sinc and Mal for their goals. She receives a rose crown for being player of the match. They’ve done their thanks to the Riveters, joining hands and throwing them up and down as a team and it feels so surreal to Tobin, as if she’s dreaming.
Kat points up to the bleachers, “Look!” she elbows Nadine, “Is that Kelley?”
Sure enough, there’s Kelley in the stands holding a sign high above her head.
“I lost the Nadine Angerer Shot Challenge (And Lived To Tell The Tale)” Nadine reads, barking out a deep laugh and sending two thumbs up to her. Tobin swears she sees her sister Katie for a fleeting second but shakes her head and gets pulled into a hug from Nadine. When she looks up again, she sees Christen smiling at her. Tobin lifts her hands, cupping them into a heart. Christen mimics her gesture and Tobin thinks she’s mouthing an I Love You.
Signing autographs is very strange to Tobin, smiling politely at the little kids and scratching her first name and the number seventeen on jerseys and scarves. She makes her way through it quickly and she’s feeling uncomfortable, so she ducks into the tunnel and heads for the locker room.
“Christen, thank you so much for getting this together,” Cindy says, giving her a side hug, “Tobin always talks about how your mac and cheese is amazing,” Christen grins at her.
The Heath women are in the kitchen with Christen, Allie, Alex, Kelley and Sonnett, prepping the food to be cooked on the grill. Jeff, Jeffrey, Bati and Servando are firing up the grill outside and making sure the chafing dishes in the barn are heating up.
Cindy suggests to Christen to delegate tasks to the group, being sensitive and not wanting to take over whatever the young woman has planned. Gratefully Christen smiles at her, appreciating her calmness and taking a moment to calm herself.
“Me and Kelley will get these trays outside into the chafing dish,” Alex suggests, pointing to the counter.
“That would be great,” Christen nods, taking a deep breath, “okay, if someone could get the lettuce chopped up for a salad, it goes in this bowl,” she instructs and continues to add a few more.
Once the kitchen is clear and almost everyone is outside, Christen turns to Cindy, “Thank you,” she says, stepping forward and giving her a hug, “I needed a guiding hand,”
Cindy smiles at her, “I’ve been there before,” she says simply. They both turn when they see highlights reflecting on the living room drapes.
“Ooh, is she home?” Cindy asks, walking to towards the front door. She pulls it open to find some people she doesn’t know.
“Hello,” A man’s deep voice greets.
“Dad?” Christen yells, trotting to the door that Cindy has opened wider.
Christen sees her parents and sisters Tyler and Channing enter. She introduces them to Cindy, shocked that they are here in the living room.
“What are you doing here?” she asks, looking with large eyes between them.
“Oh sweetie,” Her Mom says, stepping close to hug her, “we couldn’t miss Tobin’s first match!”
“Oh, Mom,” Christen quivers, hugging her hard, “that’s so sweet of you guys, you were at the match?”
They all nod, “We have to leave tomorrow, but there was no way we would miss it,” her Dad says happily, “Don’t you know how much we’ve missed watching soccer?”
“What the,” Tobin mutters from the kitchen door, “what are all of you doing here?” she asks, looking completely shocked.
“Tobin!” they all cheer, most of the raising them their hands.
“I can’t believe it,” Tobin says, blinking back tears, “you all came for the game?”
“Oh, honey, of course we did,” her Mom says, walking to her and hugging her. It takes Tobin a few minutes to greet those in the house, wiping her eyes from the shock and overwhelming outpouring of love in the room.
She finds Christen last, Christen, who stood off to the side, a smile on her face, soaking it all in.
“Hi, babe,” Tobin whispers, holding her close, “how are you?”
“I’m okay,” she whispers back, giving Tobin a soft kiss, knowing most everyone is watching them, “how do you feel? You were tossed around out there a bit,”
“I’m just fine,” Tobin smiles, missing her softly, “did you plan all of this?”
“I invited your family,” she admits, smiling at her, “but my family surprised me,”
“Oh, wow,” Tobin chuckles, squeezing her tight, and letting out a deep breath, “is everyone else outside?”
“Yeah,” Christen nods, “we should head out there,”
“Come on, lovebirds!” Perry calls out loudly, “I hear the food is ready,”
Tobin straightens up, “I’m starving!” she announces, getting a laugh from them. She slides her hand down to find Christen’s and they walk out together.
“Kelley,” Tobin says, sipping her beer, “Nadine was still laughing at your sign in the locker room,” she chuckles. “She says you’re crazy and she loves you,”
“Did you tell her I want a rematch?” Kelley questions with raised eyebrows.
“No,” Tobin shakes her head, “but I did tell her to expect you to want one,”
“Good enough,” Kelley nods, looking satisfied, “I’ll crush her.”
“Just like you crushed Dave with the pancake contest?” Sonnett rolls her eyes and laughs.
“Hey,” Kelley says defensively, “he cheated,” she points at her, then at the rest of them, “he has a bigger mouth,”
Christen rolls her eyes, “Debatable,” she murmurs as she lifts her beer to her mouth and takes a drink.
“Hey!” Kelley frowns at her as they all laugh.
“Oh, this feels nice,” Tobin groans as she settles on her back in back in bed. It’s late and everyone is gone from the barn party. Tobin’s sisters and brother are spending the night, Jeffrey on the couch and girls in the guest room.
“You getting stiff, honey?” Christen questions as she slides under the covers and edging closer to her.
“Not too much,” Tobin replies sleepily, “thanks again for helping me stretch,”
“Well, it’s my job to help you stay in tip top shape,” she replies with a smile, lying on her side and looking at her lovingly.
“I need to give you a raise,” Tobin smiles at her, her eyes half lidded, sleep coming soon. Now that the excitement and the adrenaline rush of the game and after party have worn off, Tobin is exhausted. She smiles at her, “I love you,” she says, a lone tear streaking from her eye.
Christen scoots closer, “I love you,” she says just as softly, leaning in and kissing her, “now, we should go to sleep,” she pulls her pillow closer, settling in near Tobin’s side. “I might have to start a chart,” she says absently.
“Hum? Of what?” Tobin asks tiredly.
“The orgasms I owe you,” she giggles, letting her hand rest on Tobin’s chest, fingers between her sternum.
“Oh, those,” Tobin says, “I think I’m a little drunk,” she announces in the darkness.
Christen signs and hums, “Me too,” she agrees, “your sister Perry is a troublemaker,”
“Her and Kelley get along entirely too well,” Tobin chuckles with her eyes closed. She moves her right arm under Christen’s pillow and brings her hand up to caress Christen’s shoulder.
“That was so cool of your parents and Tyler and Channing coming,” Tobin says, a smile on her face, “that was such a surprise.”
“I know,” Christen agrees, “I had no clue,” she admits, “and wasn't it great with how they got along with your parents? They looked like they all had a great time,”
“Yeah,” Tobin nods slightly, “they really did,” she says and then chuckles, “At least my Mom didn’t bring a one of my baby books,” she says, “I think I’d die,”
Christen laughs that musical giggle that makes Tobin’s heart speed up, “I’m sure now that they’ve exchanged numbers, they’ll plan it for next time.”
“Can we agree right now to not tease each other too much?” Tobin asks, “Because I was such a dork as a kid,”
Christen chuckles, her tiredness catching up with her, “I won’t tease if you won’t,” she says, “although I reserve the right to some laughing.”
“We can laugh,” Tobin chuckles with her, “but no taking pics to text out,”
“Oh, Hell no,” Christen laughs, “I don’t want anyone to see me with pigtails and cornrows,”
They both laugh quietly and settle down, Tobin shifting her hips a little and letting out a sigh.
“I’m so grateful for you,” Tobin says, her voice cracking, “I love you so much and I’m so happy you’re in my life.”
“Tobin,” Christen says, her voice carrying as much as urgency she can muster with how tired she is, “baby, you bring me so much joy and I love you so much, and if you were to ask me why, we’d never get to sleep tonight.” She lifts her head and kisses her, “Now, let’s stop talking and go to sleep,”
“Okay, babe,” Tobin agrees with a yawn, “I love you,”
“I love you, baby. Goodnight,”
End of Part 1